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Sunday, January 21, 2018

North Korea's SLBM program.

I've often posted on how I've been interested, and concerned, about North Korea for decades. The Kim family is not as radical as you can get (See Iran), but they have a similar goal. Survival. They see what's happened in Russia, Egypt, and Libya, and they know being an adversary (hell, a friend or alley) of the United States can be problematic. And the Kim's, call them many things, you can call them survivors. And their ruthlessness compares to Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

With that as a backdrop, I've recently become a fan of this website, 38North.com. Back when I was in south Korea at Camp Casey, we had a bad joke, "We're 45 from the 38th." It would take 45 seconds for the artillery from North Korea to hit us.

Now here is an interesting report on North Korea's Sub-launched Ballistic Missile program. For some reason a nation that cannot feed it's population needs nuke launching subs.

North Korea’s Submarine Ballistic Missile Program Moves Ahead: Indications of Shipbuilding and Missile Ejection Testing

38 North November 16, 2017

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

Commercial satellite imagery of the Sinpo South Shipyard from November 5 indicates that North Korea is on an aggressive schedule to build and deploy its first operational ballistic missile submarine.

The continued movement of parts and components into and out of the parts yards adjacent to the construction halls indicates an ongoing shipbuilding program. The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine (SSB)[1]—the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA).[2]

A probable launch canister support, or launch canister, appears to be present within the service tower at the missile test stand suggesting the ongoing ejection testing of submarine launch ballistic missiles (SLBM). Such testing could support the continued development of SLBMs, a new ballistic missile submarine or a combination of both.

Both the SINPO-class submarine and submersible missile test stand barge remain berthed at the same locations as observed since last August and appear capable of putting to sea at any time of Pyongyang’s choosing; however, there are no activities suggesting a forthcoming at-sea or submerged test of a Pukguksong-1/KN-11, a potential Pukguksong-3, or other SLBM.

Building of a New Submarine

Throughout 2017 there has been continued movement of parts and components into and out of the two parts yards adjacent to the constructions halls in the center of the shipyard. Accompanying this has been the movement of the gantry and tower cranes that service the yards.[3] These activities suggest a prolonged and ongoing shipbuilding program, which is supported by the fact that the Sinpo South Shipyard has historically been the primary manufacturer of large submarines for the Korean People’s Navy (KPN).

Imagery from November 5 shows two larger circular objects that may be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull. The diameter of the first object is approximately 7.1 meters, while the diameter of the second starts at approximately 7.1 meters and reduces to approximately 6.1 meters. The larger object has what appears to be two internal cross members that could be used to support decks or internal equipment. If these assessments are correct, then the shipbuilding program is for a submarine with a beam broader (in width) than the ROMEO-class attack submarine (6.7 meters)—meaning it is potentially a SINPO-C SSB, the reported follow-on to the SINPO-class SSBA.

Figure 1. Continued movement of parts and components observed at parts
yards adjacent to construction halls. Image © 2017 DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Figure 2. Close-up of one parts yard shows potential pressure
hull components. Image © 2017 DigitalGlobe, Inc. 

Likely Ejection Testing of Missile

At the test stand, imagery from November 5 shows an object visible at the top of the service tower that appears to be either a launch canister support or launch canister. This object does not appear in previous satellite or ground images of the test stand. While there is no additional activity of note in the immediate area, the service tower remains in place. During the earlier development of the Pukguksong-1/KN-11, it was removed after testing campaigns. Therefore, the continued presence of this object suggests ongoing SLBM ejection tests. If correct, this is likely a continuation of the ejection test campaign reported during July of this year.[4] Regardless, additional ejection tests should be expected in the future for further development of the Pukguksong-1, a potential Pukguksong-3, or other future SLBMs. Such a test would also be valuable for validating missile launch systems for a new class of SSBs.

Figure 3. Close-up of the missile test stand indicates launch canister support
or launch canister present at service tower. Image © 2017 DigitalGlobe, Inc.

ICBMs, submarines with missiles. Look just over the border you see China with its submarines program and carrier development. Seems these nations are interested in projecting power.

No question, the Kim's have learned the lesson of Muammar Gaddafi. The US will turn on you (thank you Mrs. Bill Clinton) after giving up you WMDs. So unless you want to attack North Korea (ugly would not be a word to describe it) you're going to have to live with a nuclear armed rogue state. Personally, I would use an updated version of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Return our tactical nukes to South Korea (open secret is we've had a nuke sub off the peninsula for ages to keep the NK army on their side of the DMZ), deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to South Korea, Japan and Australia. And finally, arm Japan and Australia with nuclear weapons. These are people who live by the words of Stalin, "Treaties are like pie crust, made to be broken." A signed document means nothing to the Kim’s, or China. Unless we have a fist to hit them with, they hold us at the disadvantage. And we cannot tolerate that.

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